Letter to my Younger Self from my Current Self
I don’t know why my younger self was born with a little left hand, but I certainly have learned quite a few things about living this life that I wish I could have shared with a younger self
Dear sweet one,
You were born with a little left hand. I don’t know why. The doctors don’t know why. No one knows why. As you grow up, you will pick up messages from the world that because of your hand, you are defective, deficient, less than, incomplete, and therefore not lovable. G-d willing no one will ever say these cruel things to you directly, but you will absorb them nonetheless. I wish I could protect you from these messages, because they are lies, very convincing but utterly untrue lies. You don’t have to have ten fingers or two full arms to be lovable. The fact that your hand is how it is doesn’t change that you are loved exactly the way you are, exactly the way you were born. I wish I could go into your brain and remove these false beliefs, but all I can do is warn you to watch out for them. To remind you to guard yourself against them, and to be ever vigilant against them.
Of course you know that sometimes life will be incredible and wonderful for you. And at other times, life will be hard for you, and it absolutely sucks that you will go through that. I wish I could stop it from happening, but we both know that I can’t. But I will be here for you. Many people are here for you, including people alive now and people/relatives from the past, and even people whom you’ve not even yet met and won’t meet for many years. So you are/never have been/never will be alone.
Sometimes adults or kids will say stupid or hurtful things for no reason. Maybe they didn’t realize that what they said was mean. Other times, they will say mean things to you on purpose. Have you ever heard the phrase “hurt people hurt people”? It’s often true. So when you hear mean things about you or your hand, please know that they aren’t true. Part of your mind may believe some of these words, and it makes sense that you would feel bad. But it’s not – and never will be – about you.
I want you to know that sometimes even very special, kind, sweet, lovable people experience others being mean or hurtful. Some people may say that your hand is ugly or weird, or that they don’t want to play with you. Or they may avoid you, which is in some ways even harder.
Sometimes, you will cry when someone says something that is mean or hurtful.
Sometimes, you will ignore the comments and walk away.
Sometimes, you will believe that what they say is true.
Sometimes, you will put on a suit of armor and pretend that it doesn’t hurt you.
Sometimes, you will explain yourself even when you don’t want to.
Sometimes you will have a great comeback or funny retort.
Sometimes you will think of what you wished you had said several hours or days later. Sometimes, you will laugh because it’s funny or because you feel embarrassed.
Sometimes you will leave your body by thinking or mentally going somewhere else.
These are all good responses. There isn’t a right or wrong response, just what you want to say or do in the moment. But I urge you not to reply with cruelty because that just brings you down to their level. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your existence. No matter how you respond, I still love you and cherish you and support you. And if you ever want to practice responses, I will be happy to do this with you.
I want you to know that while you certainly can be if you want to, you don’t have to be some sort of hero or champion or even a limb difference spokesperson. You just need to live as you, to find your authentic self and be true to her. You don’t have to compensate for your hand or work yourself so hard that you collapse in exhaustion. You don’t have to achieve amazing things to be loved and appreciated. You just have to find out what makes your heart melt and what is worth taking a risk for, and what inspires you to get out of bed in the morning. You will need to learn to take care of all of you, including your hand, whether that means special exercises or a different keyboard or elastic shoelaces. Not that you can’t do anything that you set your mind to.
So let’s talk about that for a minute. You can do anything you set your mind to, and even more. You have a strong and resilient body and an even stronger, resilient, fiercely independent mind. You are resourceful and creative. You can do absolutely anything!
But you don’t have to do everything. No one does. And you certainly don’t have to do everything better than everyone else to “prove it” to them that you are fiercely competent and capable. You just need to be you. And that’s more than enough. I promise. ❤️
©2022. Laura Faye Clubok, MS, OTR/L, On The Other Hand Therapy